“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax”. With these words, Donald Trump finally recognised the existence of climate change, although he immediately clarified that he does not ‘know that it’s manmade’ and suggested that the climate ‘will change back again’. The US President has long doubted climate change, tweeting previously that it was ‘created by and for the Chinese’. However, it has not just been the Chinese that he has accused: In an interview with CBS, Trump said that scientists have a big political agenda and argued that he does not want to harm the US economy with ecological policies: ‘I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs’.
Trump announced in June 2017 his decision to abandon the Paris Agreement, signed by almost 200 countries at the end of 2015, thus fulfilling one of the promises he made in the electoral campaign. Trump has assured his country that this pact put the US economy and its workers at a permanent disadvantage, which did not match with his policy of ‘America first’. The Trump administration has consequently suspended all the climate commitments that the United States had assumed under the Paris Agreement, in spite of a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that has warned of a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees between 2030 and 2052 if current levels of climate change continue. At the same time NASA research states that due to rising global temperatures, glaciers are melting and duly raising sea levels, which already threatens numerous coastal settlements around the world.
The devastating hurricanes and flooding that strike worldwide do not allow us ordinary people the luxury of ignoring climate change and its deadly impacts in the way Trump and his administration do. We must take measures now to avoid greater evils in the future. Trump must listen to the scientific consensus. ‘Forget what the sceptics say,’ says glaciologist Martin Siegert of Imperial College in London, ‘Climate change is real and is happening right now.’ As a 2013 study by John Cook demonstrates, 97.1% of scientists endorse the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.
Disregarding the evidence now is dangerous and irresponsible. Quite simply, the President of the most powerful nation on the planet - and one of the most environmentally polluted - cannot continue to ignore a real, visible and threatening phenomenon. Some areas in the United States, such as California, are making a concerted effort against climate change, committing to using 100% clean energy by 2045, but this is not enough. California itself has suffered its worst drought in more than 1,000 years, followed directly by devastating episodes of torrential rains, which led to landslides and created the conditions for this year's gigantic forest fires. This is the motivation for California’s new commitments, but without help from the US President, California’s efforts will likely be in vain. Trump must wake up.